Have you thought about your heart health lately? Valentine’s week has arrived and if you have ventured into a shop of late, you will be surrounded by heart-shaped objects that are gifted to others as a representation of love. And as wonderful as it is to show others appreciation, when did we last think about giving our own heart some love? It might sound like a strange question, but as chiropractors we often discover during someone’s first visit that their spine has been neglected. It hasn’t been an intentional oversight on their part; it is because the spine sits behind us and can’t be seen. What happens when things are out of site? They are out of mind! And for many, the same can happen with the heart. Here is the scary truth. Cardiovascular disease (which encompasses the heart and blood vessels) is the leading cause of death globally according, to the World Health Organisation, resulting in the loss of nearly 18 million lives a year1. With numbers on the rise, it may seem like a lost cause, but research shows that adhering to some simple behaviours can prevent issues from occurring in the first place. When it comes to heart disease, it is suggested that 80% of cases could be prevented through lifestyle changes2,3. You will be pleased to know we will discuss some of these today. Here are 4 key areas you can focus on to support your heart health: 1. Diet The food and drink you consume consistently will support the health of your heart. Adding plenty of vegetables to your plate along with unprocessed food is always best as you know exactly what it contains. The added salt and sugar, along with ‘trans-fatty acids’ found in processed foods can be particularly bad for the heart. As well as a well-rounded diet, incorporating foods such as leafy greens, nuts and seeds, fish, dark berries, and garlic, have all been identified as superfoods for heart health. Keeping alcohol consumption and fizzy drinks to a minimum, and water consumption high will support your heart too. 2. Exercise Your heart is a muscle that keeps you alive, and like any muscle, it is designed to work. Moving your body through intentional exercise helps to get your heart muscle firing and blood pumping. Aim for at least 30 minutes of exercise daily and focus on movement that will elevate your heart rate. Choosing something that will bring you joy is always recommended, as it will make your routine more sustainable. 3. Cessation of smoking It is hard to get away from the fact that smoking is harmful to health now that cigarette packets are covered in the statistics. If you currently smoke, the cessation of it can significantly reduce the pressure put upon your heart and blood vessels over time, which reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes. We know it is not an easy habit to break, but it can provide incredible benefits. 4. Stress management Your body can deal with stress in the short term, but if it continues over prolonged periods it can negatively impact your body, putting pressure on your heart and blood vessels. Therefore, being proactive to help your body cope with stress is key. Box breathing is an excellent technique that can easily be incorporated into daily life and helps build resiliency for those stressful moments. All you need to do is breathe in for 4 seconds through your nose, hold your breath for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds through your mouth, and pause for 4 seconds, before repeating the cycle. So, let’s show the heart some love this Valentine’s and beyond! You may have heard about the above focus areas before, but hopefully this blog is a helpful reminder. Even if you choose one task to work on this week before moving on to another, it will contribute to supporting the health of your heart and body. If you have any concerns with the health of your heart, be sure to liaise with your General Practitioner or relevant healthcare provider as soon as possible. If we can support you in the process, please reach out.
References: 1. World Health Organization. (2023). Cardiovascular Diseases. Retrieved from World Health Organization: https://www.who.int/health-topics/cardiovascular-diseases#tab=tab_1
2. Stampfer, M., Hu, F., Manson, J., Rimm, E., & Willett, W. (2000, July 6). Primary prevention of coronary heart disease in women through diet and lifestyle. The New England Journal Of Medicine, 16 - 22. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/10882764/
3. Chiuve, S., Rexrode, K., Spiegelman, D., Logroscino, G., Manson, J., & Rimm, E. (2008, Aug 26). Primary prevention of stroke by healthy lifestyle. Circulation, 947-954.
The content of this blog is for educational purposes and is not intended to offer personal medical advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this blog